The eighties were the decade when popular culture became political. Live Aid, Farm Aid, We Are The World were all famous activist campaigns, and everywhere you looked, artists and activists partnered for a common cause. Undoubtedly the spirit of these collaborations grew out of sixties hippie culture, but now artist taking a stand took a more militant approach to making their points.
The attacks of September 11, and the politics, division, and wars that followed, brought gravity to the fashion industry that it hadn’t seen since the Second World War.
Critics found themselves unable to focus on the European shows, devoting their column inches to cultural commentary rather to dissection of hemlines. Politics polarized relations between global fashion capitals in Europe and the United States. Designers presented collections that were more successful as opinion pieces than a wardrobe staples.
Two groups of fashion designers took two diametrically opposed approaches to dealing with issues of the time, which ranged from famine to AIDS, poverty to nuclear power. A British group proactively and provocatively made clothing that, often literally, made a statement, while a Japanese group made subtle visual choices that quietly commented on and condemned attitudes of the dominant culture.
Also using words in fashion was Franco Moschino, but where Hamnett took aim at politics and culture, Moschino was interested in challenging and lampooning the very arena in which he worked. Where Hamnett was cool and provocative, Moschino was an openminded comedian. Starting his own label in 1983, his clever satirization of the fashion system created some of the most unaffected and brutally honest clothing ever made, garments seemingly conscious of their absurdity but not caring what one thought of them. The Moschino clients actually spent thousands of dollars on outfits emblazoned with “waist of money” or “I’m full of shirt” copy, which shows just how much power an established brand operates with, no matter what they do or how “ridiculous” it may seem.His advertising rarely featured his clothing but often promoted crucial global issues like the environment, racism, and AIDS awareness.
An activist protest took place also during the Rick Owens show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2019 on September 27, 2018.